West Midlands soldiers prepare to keep peace in Cyprus

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Soldiers from the West Midlands have been completing their training to join the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus.

Members of Coventry-based Reserve unit 126 Field Company, part of 101 Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) Group, are being put through their paces at Nesscliff Training Area in Shropshire.

But before they deploy they will need to convince United Nations assessors that they are ready to patrol the buffer zone between Turkish Cypriot forces in northern Cyprus and their Greek Cypriot counterparts in the south.

Deploying to Cyprus in late September for a six-month tour, 101 Force Support Battalion REME, split across Wrexham, Prestatyn, Manchester, Coventry and Germany, will provide the largest element of the group, and will also provide humanitarian aid and security for political talks.

It will be the first time a REME Battalion has led Operation TOSCA, as the peacekeeping mission is known.

Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jim Heardman, said:

One of the big challenges in a battalion made up of 20 diverse units has been to bring such a mixed group together.

The exercise includes drills and skills in negotiation and mediation, observing and reporting, recognising what constitutes a violation of existing agreements, immediate action, incident control and de-escalation and public order and civil disturbance.

The battalion has worked extremely hard to be ready for the challenges ahead and is looking forward to the deployment.

The Battalion, formed on April 1st 2008 is 263-strong, including 72 Territorial Army soldiers. It is a mixture of 120 REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers), 68 infantry, 49 Royal Logistics Corps and 26 from other areas.